By David Highfield

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Jennifer Cutruzzula, 25, has apologized for the day she left her 8-month-old daughter in the woods, but says she felt like it was her only option.

Monday, a judge sentenced her to 8-to-16 months behind bars, with credit for time served.

Cutruzzula has been in jail since February of last year, after neighbors in Wall Borough watched her walk into the woods with the baby – and walk out alone.

“Something apparently snapped in her head and she took the baby and ran off,” said neighbor Keri McLane, “and didn’t come back with it.”

Cutruzzula went about 50 yards into the woods along Irwin Street.

It was a cold, rainy February morning, with temperatures in the 30s.

She left her daughter on the ground, in the mud, with a bottle of milk and left.

“She said she wanted a fresh start,” said East McKeesport Police Chief for Russ Stroschein. “I have never heard of anyone just leaving their child in the woods.”

Her case also prompted a strong response from the DA’s office.

“She could have dropped the baby off,” said Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala. “Can’t take care of the child – then we will, as a community we will.”

Monday, the judge said even when Cutruzzula gets out of jail, she can not see her daughter.

The judge ordered her not to have any contact with the girl for the next seven-and-a-half years.

The little girl is now 20 months old and is living with her biological father.

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